Amy Hansen riding a tandem bike

The program I was involved in was “Language and Culture in China.” The whole trip involved us touring around the first week in Southern China. A memorable last day was in Shanghai where we got to see the beautiful night lights of the city of Shanghai. Our next destination was Beijing where we stayed for a few weeks.

I got to experience what student life was like at the Beijing Institute of Technology. After classes, our teacher gave us more of a tour around the popular sites of Beijing. This included seeing more temples, a national museum, the Summer Palace, and many other places. My favorite place we visited there was the Forbidden City. We also got to see one of the seven wonders of this world, the Great Wall of China. We had to climb the steep stairs on a hot sunny day, but in the end, it was all worth it. We got to see the beautiful views of the mountains stretched across the land.

Being in Beijing for a few weeks, I enjoyed getting accustomed to the subways, buses, and cafeterias. I really liked how convenient the bullet train was in China with it being very fast to regions across China.

For the last week of our stay in China, we were in Xi'an. Although it was hot and humid there on the first day we arrived, we all knew there were more adventures to come our way. We got to try some really good food there at the local street market nearby our hotel. We also got to see the famous terracotta warriors, the Daming palace, and the Xi’an wall. I really enjoyed our last week, especially going on the gondola lift from the Huaqing palace as well as me and my friend riding a tandem bike along the Xi’an wall!

Throughout studying abroad in China, I became closer with a group of my classmates and have met a few new friends along the way. Traveling outside of the country for the first time in my life and having it being in China while studying abroad is one of the best experiences I have ever encountered in my life. I loved seeking the thrill of new adventures every day in China and learning so much about the country, history, and language. I loved the overall experience, being able to learn so much outside of the classroom and fully immerse myself.

I'm proud that I had the confidence to speak Mandarin to the locals and keep up with certain conversations with the locals. I also helped translate what a local said to my friends and vice versa. I also enjoyed having random conversations while I bargained at the market for a good deal to buy some nice gifts. At the market, I bought gifts for my friends and family, especially my grandma to give for New Years. Studying here in China, I am able to confidently speak naturally outside and not be too scared of doubting any mistakes, knowing that it is best to make mistakes and learn from them.

I plan on using more of what I learned in China to better communicate with my grandma back at home. I potentially plan on using this language for my future career. I am hoping that I will grow better with my Chinese language skills and possibly find work there or an internship in the bigger cities like Beijing or Shanghai.